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For decades, it has been considered taboo to talk about Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. Now, two things have happened that suggest this taboo is beginning to break.
On January 8th, a new edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf went on sale in Germany for the first time in 70 years. This edition, named ‘Hitler, Mein Kampf – eine kritische Edition’ (‘Hitler, Mein Kampf – a critical edition’) was published by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, München (Munich Institute for Contemporary History), who have added approximately 3,500 notes to the text in an attempt to debunk Hitler’s ideologies.
There has been a mixed reaction to the re-publication of Hitler’s notorious manifesto. Some say its republication is a good thing, as it will serve to tell today’s generation how inhumane Hitler’s theories really were. It is also believed that making Mein Kampf freely available to buy again will remove the taboo on it, making Hitler’s ideologies decidedly less attractive to (potential) extremists. However, others have criticised this move; in particular, some members of the Jewish community believe it is offensive to even give the book space on the shelves again, and that it should have been left alone.
The reason Mein Kampf has been published now, after 70 years, is because the Urheberrecht (copyright law) on it expired; according to German copyright law, an author’s work may be republished no sooner than 70 years after their death. Hitler died in 1945, making 2015 the 70-year anniversary of his death. The Bavarian regional government previously held the copyright for the book, and banned it following WW2.
As it stands, the new edition of Mein Kampf sold out as soon as it hit the shelves on January 8th.
A new book, now also a film, has taken Germany by storm. ‘Er Ist Wieder Da’ (‘Look Who’s Back’ in English) is based on the following premise: What would happen if Hitler were alive in Germany today? What would he think of modern-day Germany? The book, written by Timur Vermes, sees Hitler turn up in modern-day Berlin. People think he is an actor, or a comedian, and don’t take him seriously – much to his frustration. He gains a bit of a reputation in Berlin, with people taking photos and videos of him, and ends up becoming a YouTube sensation. So he decides to use his new-found ‘fame’ to get back into politics.
This is a comedy, though the film adaptation produced some unexpected results. It contains some Borat-style elements where ‘Hitler’ interacts with real members of the German public. The directors were expecting people to react negatively to Hitler, but found that the majority of them reacted with amusement and excitement towards him. Many, they found, were also very keen to voice their discontent with Germany’s level of immigration, and their fear of/dislike for the refugees entering the country at the moment.
Here you can watch the trailer to the film (in German, with English subtitles):
Lots to think about here, I’m sure you’ll agree! So leave your thoughts below!